Template:History of war
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain. In this modern era amphibious warfare persists in the form of commando insertion by fast patrol boats, zodiacs and mini-submersibles.
In the modern era of warfare, an amphibious landing of infantry troops on a beachhead is the most complex of all military maneuvers. The undertaking requires an intricate coordination of numerous military specialties, including air power, naval gunfire, naval transport, logistical planning, specialized equipment, land warfare, tactics, and extensive training in the nuances of this maneuver for all personnel involved.
Recorded amphibious warfare predates the 18th century by a couple of millennia: the Sea Peoples that menaced the Egyptians from the reign of Akhenaten as captured on the reliefs at Medinet Habu and Karnak, the Hellenic city states who routinely resorted to opposed assaults upon each others' shores which they reflected upon in their plays and other expressions of art, the landing at Marathon by the ancient Persians on 9 September 490 BC which history records as the largest amphibious operation for 2,400 years until eclipsed by Gallipoli.
More current amphibious landings have been conducted by small commando forces of various states and non-state actors. There exists debate over mainland China (PRC)'s potential to conduct amphibious operations against Taiwan (ROC). With the bulk of the world's population concentrated near the sea, chances are high that future conflict may entail the use of amphibious assets.
In 1565, the island of Malta was invaded by the Turks during the Siege of Malta. A strategic choke point in the Mediterranean Sea, the loss was so menacing for the Western Europe kingdoms that forces were urgently raised in order to recover the island. But it took four months to train, arm, and move a 5,500 man amphibious force to retake the island.
Then, Philip II, King of Spain, decided to train and assign amphibious-assault skilled units to the Royal Armada. These units were trained specifically for the fighting on ships and from ships. The Spanish Marines were born. The idea was to set up a permanent assignation of land troops to the Royal Spanish Navy, available for the Crown.
Thus, countries adopted the idea and subsequently raised their early marine corps too.
The first "professional" Marine units were already task-trained amphibious troops, but instead of being disbanded, were kept for the Crown's needs. First actions took place all along the Mediterranean Sea where the Turks and pirate settlements were a risk for the commerce and navigation: Algiers, Malta, Gelves.
Landings at the "Terceras Landing" in the Azores Islands 25 May 1583, was a military feat as the planners decided to make a fake landing to distract the defending forces (5,000 Portuguese, English and French soldiers); also special sea going barges were arranged in order to unload cavalry horses and 700 artillery pieces on the beach; special rowing boats were equipped with small cannons to support the landing boats; special supplies were readied to be unloaded and support the 11,000 men landing force strength. The total strength of the amphibious force, was 15,000 men, including an armada of 90 ships.
After an initial reconnaissance action where the most suitable beaches for the landing assets were chosen, a 4,000–man first assault wave was unloaded while two "Galeras" made a distractive fake landing away from the main beach. The main defensive body ran to defend against the feinted action, but the first wave had set up a firm defensive perimeter, and the second wave was already landing with the heavy artillery.
In this operation we can find documented reports about the detailed planning, the previous reconnaissance of the beaches, the special equipment and training, ship-to-shore movement, naval fire support. Not the first landing, but one of the first amphibious operations.
This was a century of "expansion". European countries were expanding and creating colonies. Amphibious operations were mostly oriented to settle colonies and strong points along the navigational routes. Fights among countries to keep or destroy opposing power's capabilities were continuous.
Amphibious forces were fully organized and devoted to this mission, although the troops not only fought ashore, but on board ships.
Amphibious landings were performed by Spanish Marines allowing them to conquer Sardinia (1717) and Sicily (1732).
Not all landings were successful. Mere frontal assaults from the sea against well defended positions could prove a disaster, when they had been planned inadequately. On 13 March 1741, a British Royal Navy fleet, including 2,000 guns in 186 ships commanded by Admiral Sir Edward Vernon, tried to take the Spanish city of Cartagena de Indias with a 23,600–man force, including 4,000 Virginia recruits, commanded by Lawrence Washington (half-brother of George Washington).
The defenders lined up almost 4,000 men, including Marines from the six ships based in that port.
After 15 days of bombing, the British started the landings, delayed by the defenders' actions, and manage to scuttle the six Spanish ships attempting to close the access channel to the city. The defenders were decimated, and only 600 remained inside the last bastion: San Felipe Fortress.
The Commander of the landing force, General Woork, tried to advance but due to the heavy equipment his forces made only slow progress towards the fortress. The defending artillery focused on the ships supporting troops and the ship-to-shore traffic, while the defenders decimated the advancing troops out in the open. The landing force advance ended abruptly when the attackers found the ladders and engineer equipment was not suitable for the fortress assault.
During that very night a carnage took place among the landing force, and with the first light of the morning, a surprising bayonet charge from the defenders finished off the landing force and their supplies.
For 30 more days the attackers bombed the fort with no results, and they fell back to Jamaica.
In 1759, during the siege of Quebec, the British troops attempted on a number of occasions to cross the Saint Lawrence River in force. An attempt to land some 4,000 troops in the face of resistance failed. Ultimately a landing was managed at a relatively-undefended site, and British troops gained a foothold allowing 5,000 to take part in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham which led to the surrender of the city.
In 1762 Royal Navy troops & marines succeed in taking the capitals of the Spanish West & East Indies Havana in Cuba & Manila by sea respectively.
In 1776, Samuel Nicholas and the Continental Marines, the "progenitor" of the United States Marine Corps, made a first successful landing in the Battle of Nassau.
In 1781, the Spanish field marshall Bernardo de Gálvez, successfully captured British controlled Fort George by amphibious assault in the Battle of Pensacola. In 1782, he captured the British naval base at New Providence in the Bahamas.
During the Mexican-American War an amphibious assault was against Veracruz in what could be considered the first amphibious assault made by the United States Army. General William J. Worth jumped from the boat and waded to shore in chest deep water and thus could be considered the first U.S. Army soldier to make an amphibious assault.Template:Fact
During the American Civil War, the United States made several amphibious assaults all along the Confederate states coastline. Hatteras Inlet and Port Royal, South Carolina were the first of many attacks. Along with others on Roanoke Island, NC, Galveston, TX, Morris Island and James Island, SC, Fort Sumter, SC and several others. The largest was at Fort Fisher, which was the largest and most powerful fort in the world at the time, protecting the entrance of Wilmington, North Carolina. The assaulting force of over 15,000 men and 70 warships comprising of over 600 guns, was the most powerful amphibious assault in world history (and was not surpassed until the large scale landings of World War Two).
An early form of amphibious warfare was employed during the War of the Pacific in 1879, and saw coordination of army, navy and specialized units.
The first amphibious assault of this war took place as 2,100 Chilean troops successfully took Pisagua from 1,200 Peruvian and Bolivian defenders on 2 November 1879. Chilean Navy ships bombarded beach defenses for several hours at dawn, followed by open, oared boats landing Army infantry and sapper units into waist-deep water, under enemy fire. An outnumbered first landing wave fought at the beach; the second and third waves in the following hours were able to overcome resistance and move inland. By the end of the day, an expeditionary army of 10,000 had disembarked at the captured port.
In 1881 Chilean ships transported approximately 30,000 men, along with their mounts and equipment, Template:Mi to km in order to attack Lima.<ref>See W.F.Sater, "Andean Tragedy", page 20</ref> Chilean commanders were using purpose-built, flat-bottomed landing craft that would deliver troops in shallow water closer to the beach, possibly the first porpouse-built amphibious landing craft in history<ref>See Bruce W. Farcau, "The Ten Cents War", page 159</ref>: "These [36 shallow draft, flat-bottomed] boats would be able to land three thousand men and twelve guns in a single wave".
Landing tactics and operations were closely observed by neutral parties during the war: two Royal Navy ships monitored the Battle of Pisagua; United States Navy observer Lt. Theodorus B.M. Mason included an account on his report The War on the Pacific Coast of South America. The U.S.S. Wachusett with Alfred Thayer Mahan in command, was stationed at Callao, Peru, protecting American interests during the final stages of the War of the Pacific. He formulated his concept of sea power while reading a history book in an English gentleman’s club in Lima, Peru. This concept became the foundation for his celebrated The Influence of Sea Power upon History<ref>See "The Ambiguous Relationship: Theodore Roosevelt and Alfred Thayer Mahan" by Richard W. Turk; Greenwood Press, 1987. 183 pgs. page 10</ref><ref>See Larrie D. Ferreiro
'Mahan and the "English Club” of Lima, Peru: The Genesis of The Influence of Sea Power upon History', The Journal of Military History - Volume 72, Number 3, July 2008, pp. 901-906</ref>.
===World War I era===
An amphibous assault took place at the beaches of Veracruz, Mexico in 1914, when the United States Navy attacked and occupied the city as result of the Tampico Affair.
During World War I, amphibious warfare was still in its infancy: tactics and equipment were rudimentary and required much improvisation.
During this period, British Royal Marine Light Infantry (merged with the Royal Marine Artillery in the 1920s to form the Royal Marines) were used primarily as naval parties onboard Royal Navy warships to maintain discipline and man ships' guns. The RMLI joined a new Royal Navy division—the Royal Naval Division—formed in 1914 to fight on land; however, throughout the conflict, army units were depended upon to provide the bulk—if not all—of troops used in amphibious landings.
The first amphibious assault of the war ended in disaster in 1914. A large British Indian Army force was directed to launch an amphibious assault on Tanga, German East Africa. British actions prior to the assault, however, alerted the Germans to prepare to repel an invasion. The Indian forces suffered heavy casualties when they advanced on the city, forcing them to withdraw back to their boats, leaving much of their equipment behind.
The Allied invasion against the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915 proved even more disastrous than Tanga, in part due to incompetence at the high command strata.
Soldiers were landed via open, oared whaleboats and tugs at Anzac Cove and Helles. At V Beach, Helles, the landing troops—inexperienced at amphibious landings—were effectively slaughtered by the Ottoman defenders, most not even making it out of their landing craft. The Royal Dublin Fusiliers, for example, lost almost all their officers, including their commander, and suffered over 500 casualties.
In a second landing at Suvla in August, the forerunner of modern landing craft—the armoured 'Beetle'—was first used by the British.
The Alhucemas Landing on 8 September 1925, performed by a Spanish-French coalition against rebel Kabilas in the north of Morocco, was a landing where tanks were used for the first time; air naval gunfire support were employed by the landing forces, directed by spotting personnel with communication devices.
Floating depots were organized with medical, water, ammunition and food supplies, to be dispatched ashore when needed. The barges used in this landing were the surviving "K" boats from Gallipoli. But in this case, the landings were performed against a prepared, defended in force positions.
===World War II===
By the Second World War tactics and equipment had moved on. Purpose built landing craft were used at the evacuation from Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo) and an amphibious operation was tried out at Dieppe in 1942. The operation proved a failure but the lessons, hard learned, were used later.
Arguably the most famous amphibious assault was the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, in which British, Canadian, and US forces were landed at Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. The organizational planning of the landing itself (Operation Neptune) was in the hands of Admiral Bertram Ramsay. It covered the landing of the troops and their re-supply.
Other large amphibious actions in the European Theatre in WWII include:
In the Pacific Theatre, almost every campaign involved "island hopping" assaults from the sea. Some of the famous ones include:
*Battle of Guadalcanal
*Battle of Tarawa
*Battle of Makin
*Battle of Saipan
*Battle of the Philippines
*Battle of Peleliu
*Battle of Iwo Jima
*Battle of Okinawa
===Post-World War II===
During the Korean War the US 10th Corps, consisting of the 1st Marine Division and 7th (Army) Division landed at Inchon. Conceived of and commanded by US General Douglas MacArthur, this landing is considered by many military historians to have been a tactical jewel, one of the most brilliant amphibious maneuvers in history Template:Fact. The success of this battle eventually resulted in link up with US Army forces that broke out of the Pusan perimeter, and led by the 1st Cavalry Division and its Task Force Lynch, cleared much of South Korea. A second landing by the Tenth Corps on the east coast approached the Chosin Reservoir and hydroelectric plants that powered much of Communist China's heavy industry, and led to intervention by Chinese forces on behalf of North Korea. Amphibious landings also took place during the First Indochina War, notably during Operation Camargue, one of the largest of the conflict.<ref>Fall, Bernard, Street Without Joy, 1961. p. 144.</ref>
The British Royal Marines made their first post-WWII amphibious assault during the Suez Crisis of 1956 when they successfully landed at Suez on 6 November as part of a joint seaborne/airborne operation code-named MUSKETEER. It was the first amphibious operation that employed helicopters in the assault. Nearly 30 years later in the Falklands War, the Argentine 1st Marine Brigade of the Argentine Navy along with Naval Special Forces, landed at Mullet Creek near Stanley on 2 April 1982, while later the Royal Marines' 3 Commando Brigade, (augmented by the British Army's Parachute Regiment) landed at Port San Carlos on 21 May 1982.
In the Sri Lankan Civil War, the Sri Lanka armed forces carried out several successful amphibious assault against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, that included landing code named Operation Sea Breeze and Operation Balavegaya.
During the Persian Gulf War, a large amphibious assault force, composed of USMC and naval support, was positioned off the coast of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. This force was composed of 40 amphibious assault ships, the largest such force to be assembled since the Battle of Inchon.<ref>Hayden, Thomas. "Amphibious Operations in the Gulf War: 1990–91", Marine Corps Gazette, 1995. (URL accessed September 2, 2006)</ref> The object was to fix the six Iraqi divisions deployed along the Kuwaiti coast. The purpose behind this amphibious maneuver (known as an amphibious demonstration) was to prevent 6 Iraqi divisions poised for the defense of the littorals from being able to actively engage in combat at the real front. The operation was extremely successful in keeping more than 41,000 Iraqi forces from repositioning to the main battlefield. As a result, the Marines maneuvered through the Iraq defense of southern Kuwait and outflanked the Iraqi coastal defense forces.
An amphibious assault was carried out by Royal Marines, U.S. Marines and units of the Polish special forces when they landed at the Al-Faw Peninsula on 20 March 2003 during the Iraqi War.
The most recent amphibious assault was launched in the Comoros by government and African Union troops in March 2008.
* Argentine Marine Corps
* Engineer Special Brigade
* List of amphibious warfare ships
* Royal Marines
* Amphibious warfare (United States)
* United States Marine Corps
* Swedish Amphibious Corps